“The Wall That Heals” is now open in Crawfordsville, thanks in part to the efforts Wednesday by members of the Marion Patriot football team.
The Wall that Heals is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., put together by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. The wall contains the names of the more than 58,000 service members who died as a result of their service in Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the war.
The wall will be on display 24 hours a day through Sunday (April 10) at the Old Schoolyard Park in Crawfordsville. The purpose of the project is to allow “the souls enshrined on the Memorial to exist once more among family and friends in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings.” The traveling exhibit is visiting communities across the country.
Throughout its time in Crawfordsville, students from each Marion School District campus will travel to view the Wall, as well as the mobile education center on-site. Teachers will use the visit to help students learn more about both the legacy of the Vietnam War and the memorial itself.
The Wall arrived in Crittenden County on Tuesday by way of a memorial processional that made its way through the community. As the processional passed by several Marion schools, it was greeted by flag-waving students.
On Wednesday, the Wall was assembled in Crawfordsville. On hand to volunteer with the project were 47 members of the Marion Patriot football team.
“It was an awesome experience. It was wonderful,” said Karen Williams of the city of Crawfordsville, who helped organize the project locally. “I can’t say enough about how respectful the players were and how hard they worked. It kind of restored my faith in our country’s young people.”
The process of erecting the Wall took most of the day. The Marion players arrived at the park at 8:30 in the morning and were there until 2:30. Williams said two people travel with the Wall, and they instructed the players on how to assemble everything from the framing to the installation of the panels.
As the Wall came together, Williams said several Vietnam veterans and family members were on hand, looking for names of loved ones. As panels containing loved ones’ names were added to the Wall, the family members were able to join with the Marion players to move the panels into place. It made for a fitting tribute, Williams said.
“It was unreal,” she said. “All the players thanked the veterans for their service. It was super, super nice.”
For Marion football coach Lance Clark, it was a moving experience – and one that provided a great lesson for his players.
“It's really important that our young men in this program get to experience serving and helping something greater than themselves,” Clark said. “There's no greater service or model for that than men and women having died in the armed forces. I think it's quite the honor, and a great, moving lesson. We worked all day, even though it was windy, rainy, and a little cold. Our kids were respectful and worked really hard, and I was really proud to be a Marion Patriot in that moment.”
“At the end of the day, we were honored to have been asked to help with this project, and I love the idea that our kids get exposure for something outside of football,” he added. “We all really liked the idea to serve the community in a way that only a few cities in the whole United States get to experience every year. To have a small part in serving our community is ultimately what we want our program to be about.”
The Wall That Heals will be on display 24 hours a day through Sunday (April 10.) For more information, including photos and videos, click here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100077169846275. A time-lapse video of the Wall's construction is below.
The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice (May 1 application deadline), visit https://www.msd3.org/ or call 870-739-5100.